harissa yoghurt chicken & vegetable couscous

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The 2 nights per week that my husband is not at work allow me to take a bit longer in the kitchen. Sunday and Monday evenings are when I do my meal prep for the following week and make sure my fridge and freezer are stocked. I also like to to take a bit more time making dinner on these nights. Being able to create something in the kitchen is one of the things that keep me sane so I really look forward to these evenings.

Saying that, this baked chicken dish is not complicated and I threw it together with what was in my fridge and pantry. I made a richly-flavoured marinade with yoghurt, spices and roast red capsicum, poured it over some chicken thighs and baked them for 20 minutes while I made the vegetable couscous. I used the roast capsicum you can find in jars in the supermarket. I always have a jar of these in my fridge – they are an easy and welcome addition to many salads, couscous, tagines, etc.

We had this delicious dish with a spinach salad and you could also add some flatbread if you wished.

harissa yoghurt chicken

  • 1c yoghurt
  • 1 roast red capsicum, peeled, deseeded
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice (or finely diced preserved lemon)
  • 1.5tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • coriander, see note*
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2tb olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200’C. Puree the yoghurt, capsicum, spices, lemon and salt in a blender or processor until smooth. Heat the olive oil in a pan over med-high heat and cook the chicken thighs, skin down, until the skin is golden. Transfer them to a baking dish leaving any remaining oil and rendered chicken fat in the pan. Pour over the yoghurt marinade and place in the oven for 20 minutes. (It may seem like a lot of sauce but any excess is delicious poured over the couscous.)

Meanwhile, using the fat left in the pan, sauté some vegetables of your choosing until golden and cooked through. Season well. For 6 portions,  I used..

  • 1 capsicum, sliced
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • 1 spanish onion, sliced
  • handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • handful of green beans
  • handful of pine nuts (flaked almonds would also work well)

Then add 1 c of couscous and 2 c of water or stock, place a lid on the pan (or foil securely) and leave to cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove the lid, stir well, replace the lid and turn off the heat. Allow to finish steaming for a couple of minutes then fluff with a fork. Add some chopped parsley, coriander or spinach and some diced fresh date or some raisins if you wish.

Make It Easy On Yourself: blend the yoghurt marinade and dice the vegetables for the couscous the day before. And remember to keep a jar of roast capsicum in the fridge!

*Note: I also added some coriander stalks I had left from a previous dish. You could add a teaspoon of ground coriander or leave the coriander out entirely.

lemon pine nut cream and nicoise salad

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I bought a bag of little sweet potatoes at the markets last weekend with plans to make a herby potato salad of crispy bacon, spanish onion, capers and gherkins. However, I had some of this lovely lemon pine nut cream in the fridge and it, and this gloriously sunny winter weather, called for something a bit brighter.

The pine nut cream was left from some gnocchi that we had earlier this week. It is incredibly versatile and and lifts a dish from everyday to elegant. Some inspiration…

  • sweet potato gnocchi, lemon pine nut cream, dill, smoked salmon
  • roast chicken, lemon pine nut cream, tarragon roast potatoes
  • charred brussels sprouts, crispy bacon, breadcrumbs, lemon pine nut cream
  • linguine with peas, leeks, lemon pine nut cream
  • herb crusted-fish, lemon pine nut cream, iceberg lettuce salad
  • stuffed baked onions, breadcrumbs, lemon…       Well, you get the idea.

For the nicoise salad above, I simply combined the roasted potatoes with excellent tinned tuna, green beans, semi-dried tomatoes, olives, spanish onion and chopped anchovy. Topped with the cream and a boiled egg, it was a lovely mid-week lunch.

Kitchen Tip: make a double batch of this sauce and use it through the week to dress up a quick week-night dinner.

 

lemon pine nut cream sauce

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 15ml olive oil
  • 1/3 c pine nuts, processed to crumbs
  • 1/4 lemon, zest of
  • 1/3 c white wine
  • 1c thick cream
  • thyme or tarragon, optional

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil on med-high heat.  Add minced garlic and cook while stirring until fragrant.   Add ground pine nuts and herbs (if you have them) and cook while stirring until fragrant and golden. Add white wine and bring back to boil. Add cream and zest and simmer for 2 minutes .  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I like to puree the sauce after cooking to obtain a silky smooth cream but this isn’t essential. This serves 4 as a garnish.

 

roast cauliflower with satay sauce

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The recipes on this blog truly reflect how I like to cook and eat at home. Simple, one pan creations that don’t require half the day in the kitchen or leave you with a pile of pots to wash when you would rather be sitting on the lounge with a glass of wine cup of tea.

This is in such contrast to my years working as a chef. In a commercial kitchen, you spend hours preparing individual components for dishes, stacking the resulting dirty trays and pots in the sink for the kitchen hand to wash. So while I have NOT brought that workload into my home kitchen,  there are certainly some chef habits that just make my life easier. So each week I write our menu, shopping and prep lists and spend some time organising my mise en place.

At home, my mise equates to having a few things in the fridge that will help bulk out leftovers or turn a tin of tuna into a lovely lunch. Each Sunday night I try to make a loaf of buckwheat zucchini bread, a robust salad and a lovely sauce or puree to get me through the week.

Here I share the simple salad I made this week. Caramelised cauliflower dressed with the easiest satay sauce. Make double the amount of satay sauce and keep some in the fridge. Toss it through rice noodles with some chicken or tofu and mushrooms or use it as a dipping sauce for sweet potato chips.

Satay sauce

  • 1/3 c coconut cream
  • 1/4 c peanut butter (or a mix of any nut or seed butter)
  • 1 tb soy sauce
  • 1 tb rice malt syrup or honey
  • 1/2 lemon, juice of (or the juice of a lime)
  • 3 garlic cloves, roasted and crushed to a paste*

Heat the coconut cream and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Adjust the salt, sweetness and acidity to your liking and maybe add some chilli if that suits you.                                                                                                       *I roast the unpeeled garlic cloves with the cauliflower.

Roast cauliflower satay salad

  • 1 cauliflower, sliced or broken into florets
  • olive oil
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/4 spanish onion, finely sliced
  • 1/4 bunch coriander, chopped
  • satay sauce from above recipe
  • OPTIONAL: toasted coconut, almonds or crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, chickpeas.

While the cauliflower is cooling, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add the cauliflower and toss well.